Grant Shapps aims to try and "drive down" cost of PCR airport tests for holidaymakers

9 April 2021, 08:50 | Updated: 10 April 2021, 00:47

By Maddie Goodfellow

Grant Shapps has told LBC that he is looking to "drive down" the cost of "expensive airport testing" for holidaymakers, following the announcement that testing and a traffic light system will be used for international travel in the future.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at breakfast on LBC, the Transport Secretary said he agrees that private tests are "too expensive"

Questioned by Nick over what will be done about the costs, Mr Shapps explained: "We are going to be having a very close look over this next few weeks at why the costs are not being driven down.

"And we will perhaps even take a look at removing some providers who only seem to be offering very high cost PCR tests - the gold standard ones.

Pushed on what he means by "removing" providers, Mr Shapps explained: "Currently, there is a whole list of private providers, and you will see a massive range from around £65 all the way up to a couple of hundred pounds per test.

"And of course the quality of the test must be the gold standard but why is there such a range? And why is that cost not coming down? Do we need more providers to create more competition?

"So that is something I am going to be working with the travel industry and private testing providers on to drive that cost down and try and make this as cheap and convenient as possible."

Nick also pushed the secretary of state on the cost of testing for a family going on holiday, explaining that a family of four with children over 11 years old would be looking at around £180 for testing to go on holiday.

Mr Shapps replied: "Whatever we do this summer, we do not want to thrown away all of our hard work. So of course there is an abundance of caution in this.

"Which is why people will have to carry out testing and quarantine and all the rest of it.

"But I am ver mindful of the costs and I am looking at whether free departure tests could be brought from home, as people are now able to get two lateral flow tests every week for free.

"So could you take those tests away with you and test yourself before you get home?"

Hs comments come after the Department for Transport (DfT) refused to confirm whether Brits would be allowed to go abroad for their holidays from 17 May or which destinations people can visit without self-isolating upon return.

On Friday, while announcing the findings of the Global Travel Taskforce, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the government will use a traffic light system for foreign travel.

The policy will categorise countries based on a number of factors relating to their coronavirus risk.

Mr Shapps also said ministers will work with the travel sector and providers of private tests to reduce the cost of trips overseas.

Free pre-departure tests could be introduced, along with cheaper tests when holidaymakers return.

These are the rules for each category:

  • Green: There is no need to self-isolate. Take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two of your arrival in the UK.
  • Amber: Self-isolate for 10 days, unless you receive a negative result from a test taken at least five days after arrival. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.
  • Red: Spend 11 days in a quarantine hotel. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.